You never know where you’re going to be when you remember you need to do something. The best way to remember is to write it down, right? If you have a smart phone, this is a piece of cake. For the rest of us, there is good old-fashioned pen and paper. It is simple enough to stick a small notebook or post-it’s in your purse or coat pocket or car– there are many stores that even carry mini notebooks with mini pens – they can be a great gift for yourself or for anyone who needs a little more organization and structure in their lives. When in doubt, right it down. It never hurts to have an extra reminder
The holidays are a time to give, and many people put too much pressure on themselves to give and wind up so stressed out they end up doing nothing. Why not this year find a family in need and get them some basics? You can easily find a local shelter or contact your local school system Humboldt already does something similar to this. We work with an organization called “Horizon House” where we donate clothes and toys for each individual for a number of families. I believe this year we are helping out 18 families.
Did you know that both smiling and laughing help reduce stress? Help maintain your stress level by finding something to laugh and smile about every day – you’ll be glad you did.
Here’s the catch-22: the more stressed you get, the more you crave caffeine and sugar. But the more caffeine and sugar you have in your system, the more stressed you get. At some point in time, you’re probably going to give into the cravings. And that’s okay – everyone deserves a treat occasionally. But until then (and after then), it’s a great idea to keep healthier snacks readily available – i.e. raw veggies and dip, nuts (which are also very festive), fresh or dried fruit (especially kiwis which are known to be an energy booster). If you are doing a lot of baking, put aside a couple serving sizes of your favorites, and try to commit yourself to only eating what you’ve put aside (generally, a serving size is 1 cookie or brownie or 1/4 cup of anything like trifle or dip).
Similar to consuming lots of sugar and caffeine, the more stressed out you get, the less time you make for exercise. The less active you become, the more stressed out you become. If you can get your heart rate up, even for 10 minutes, you allow your brain to reset itself, and your stress level will immediately decrease. You can add motion to almost anything you do. Try walking in place or pace back and forth while on the phone or do a couple sets of crunches or lunges while watching television. If you are ambitious, you can download a yoga or meditation video – which focuses on helping you relax, and often is as short as 10 minutes.
Re-focusing at work. Are you spending too much time on 1 project? Is your brain having trouble focusing? Try taking a break every hour or so. Get up, go say hi to a friend, get yourself a glass of water – just take a minute. If you cannot leave your desk, try playing 1 round of a computer game, something you enjoy but that requires some skill, such as mind sweep or sodoku. Either way, taking that couple minutes out will provide fresh eyes and a refreshed brain which contribute to being less stressed and more productive.
Need a creative outlet to express your feelings for the day? Why not try finger painting? Despite what you may think, finger painting is not just for kids. You can either go for the traditional finger paints – which can be purchased at most craft and children’s stores at a low cost, or you can use shaving cream. Just spray a can of shaving cream on a microfiber table or countertop and use your fingers to create a design. This is a great activity to do with your kids or as an icebreaker at a holiday party – it’s always a laugh to see what people draw and why.
De-clutter. Look around at your home and see where you have stuff lying around, especially your living room or whatever room you spend the most time in relaxing. Donate or throw out anything you don’t need or use. This includes, but is not limited to, holiday decorations, that old end table used as storage instead of as a table, toys and gadgets. And put away anything that doesn’t belong in there, such as clothes, outdoor accessories and mail. When your space is de-cluttered, you create a calmer environment, and it is easier to relax and enjoy yourself.
Massage your ears. An ear massage is a fantastic way to release endorphins in your brain and make you feel less stressed. The beauty is that it only takes a couple minutes. Start by gently rubbing your earlobes with your thumb and index finger. Then squeeze the outer edges of your ears all the way to the top. These parts of your ears have tiny reflex points that can relax specific areas of your body. Finish by using your index fingers and middle fingers to massage behind the ears on the bony part of your skull.
If you have multiple errands to do this week, just think, how can I make my life easier and get everything I need to get done in as few trips as possible? Are any of my errands located near one another so I don’t waste time driving or sitting in traffic? Are any convenient to do on the way to or home from work or driving the kids around? Can I do any of this online to avoid having to go anywhere at all? As long as you are flexible with your plan and accept that you can’t control things like traffic or how many people are in line at a register, making a plan should help you stay focused and keep that holiday stress to a minimum.
Be honest. Do you stress yourself out censoring what you wish you could say to someone, in fear of what the person might say or feel? It is not good for you to keep emotions bottled up inside. Let it go. Find a nice way to express your emotions and tell people how you really feel. Be clear and concise. You will be amazed how much less stressed you feel when you let it all out. BTW, this is much more of an outside work than inside work activity – you don’t want to create an uncomfortable environment for anyone.
Dance in the rain or snow. Did you ever notice how people’s moods often turn sour because of weather? Rain and snow often cause in increase in traffic and accidents and unintentionally make your life more stressful. Next time, when you’re not in a “dress to impress” situation, take a few minutes to get a little wet and embrace the weather. Jump in a puddle, dance around, catch a snowflake in your mouth, make a snow angel! Please make sure to engage of your senses and really take in your surroundings. You will be surprised as to how rejuvenated you feel.
Enjoy a staycation (a vacation at home). Instead of spending a bundle on travelling somewhere else this holiday season, create a vacation for yourself and your family right at home. Find some local events to attend and act like tourists. Try out a new coffee shop or bar. Pick up a new hobby such as outdoor photography or cross country skiing – something that gets you outside and allows you to appreciate your surroundings. Go out, have fun, and get to know your area.
Have a movie night. Pick a movie that everyone will enjoy, maybe even your holiday favorite. Make a big bowl of popcorn or other healthy-ish snack, open a bottle of wine, sit back and enjoy. There will be plenty of days where you go out this season, so a movie night becomes a great way to enjoy yourself staying in.